|National pride: The Royal Palace of Stockholm, Sweden, the first Western country to establish diplomatic ties with Viet Nam, will celebrate its national day today. — VNS Photo Ola Ericson
To mark Sweden's National Day today the Swedish ambassador to Viet Nam, Camilla Mellander, spoke to Viet Nam News
Today on June 6, Swedes all over the world are cel-ebrating their national day. It originated when Gustav Vasa became King of Sweden in 1523. Sweden's first pluralistic constitution was also signed on this day in 1809.
Sweden has another reason to celebrate, not only today, but the whole year since it marks the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Sweden and Viet Nam. We were the first Western country to establish diplomatic ties with Viet Nam in 1969.
The jubilee anniversary will be celebrated throughout 2014 with at least one big event a month in both Viet Nam and Sweden. The events are on business-related topics, cultural affairs such as music, film, fashion and food - and education.
Our celebrations come as we experience unexpected developments. Sweden and the European Union, according to EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, are concerned with recent incidents relating to the movements of the Chinese oil rig in the East Sea.
We urge all parties to seek peaceful and co-operative solutions in accordance with international law, particularly the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and to continue ensuring safety and freedom of navigation. We hope there will be no unilateral action that could be detrimental to peace, security and stability in the region.
Sweden has always been a strong supporter of Vietnamese development. It has provided more than US$3 billion over the years for poverty reduction, economic reform, improved health, the fight against corruption and media training.
We are now entering a new phase of our partnership and are looking forward to a future where Vietnamese and Swedish companies and institutions co-operate to solve common challenges. The embassy together with Business Sweden is actively supporting Swedish companies that are already here or wish to enter the Vietnamese market.
Trade between our countries has now surpassed $1 billion, and we see scope for more volume. An important Free Trade Agreement is now being negotiated between the EU and Viet Nam. Sweden is a strong supporter since we believe that trade liberalisation benefits all parties.
A strong culture of innovation has lifted Sweden from a rather poor country 100 years ago to the forefront of technological development and a knowledge-based economy. According to indexes, Sweden is one of the world's most innovative countries and Skype, Three-point Seatbelt, Zipper, Ball-bearing and Computer Mouse are all Swedish innovations.
Our open, democratic and transparent society has facilitated this environment of innovation and co-creation. In Sweden, we enjoy a free press, the right to participate in demonstrations, freedom of expression and the right to scrutinise those in power. In addition, Swedish laws give the general public and media free access to official records, including e-mails sent within a government agency or from the prime minister's office. This strong legal protection and culture of openness has also led to Sweden being ranked as one of the least corrupt nations in the world.
Sweden's top ranking over the years as one of the least corrupt nations indicates that this situation still exists.
During November 10-30 the Swedish Embassy will host an exhibition called "Innovative Sweden" in HCM City. We will showcase cutting edge innovations that may be useful for Viet Nam's development of clean-tech, Information and Communications Technology, life science, and sustainable urban transportation.
If you would like to know more about our events and activities this year, follow us on Facebook where we make interesting posts beyond Afred Nobel, ABBA and Zlatan. If you are close to our embassy in Ba Dinh district, stop by and look at the beautiful pictures we have on display.
Let's hope that the 45th anniversary will bring the two countries and the people even closer. — VNS